Sunday, June 28, 2009


Guitarist Chris Mahoney recently contacted me to produce a song with him. He has been requisitioned to record an instrumental version of Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop". Chris had heard the work I did at APPLEHEAD with DOLOR and we agreed that it was the best place for tracking basics for this project. We booked the time about 3 weeks in advance, and he lined up a drummer. A few days before the session his first pick drummer informed him that he had taken another gig, and wouldn't be able to make the session. Chris had also had another drummer in mind and so he contacted him, and the second pick guy was booked to do the session. On the day before the session the second guy bailed. I contacted drummer Larry Lubkert, whom I had worked with before, to see if he could make the session but he was already booked. Chris and I were both more than a little concerned that the session might not happen at all. I called around to other drummers I know but no one was available at such short notice. Finally, I broke down and called APPLEHEAD studio owner Michael Burnbaum to explain the situation.
Michael saved the day in a big way. He contacted his friend, drummer Josh Eppert. Josh was the drummer with Coheed and Cambria for their first 3 albums, which were also recorded at APPLEHEAD. Josh was totally stoked to do the gig. Like many drummers he sites Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham as a major influence, and it showed! Josh knew the song, knew the parts, and attacked the drum tracking session with passion and fury! We ran through the song three times all the way through, and then went back and tracked a few alternate fills in a couple of spots. After less than two hours of tracking we had slammin' drum tracks! We couldn't have asked for a more Bonham like performance. Josh played on the studio's vintage Slingerland kit, which had beat to death heads, but Josh made it sound amazing. Of course APPLEHEAD house engineer Chris Bittner also had a lot to do with the great drum sounds we got that day. We spent a good deal of time getting sounds (I'm a picky bastard) and we did a variety of microphone setups.
In addition to all the "standard" close mic'ing we did a variety of room mics and an "alternate" vintage mic setup. The "standard" setup included a U47 FET in front of the kick, and my Electrovoice ND868 inside, summed through the EL8 Distressor, and a Shure SM57 on the snare top, AKG C414 on the snare bottom, also both summed to an EL8 Distressor. Sennheiser 421's on the two toms, Shure SM81 on the hat, and B&K's for the overheads. For room mics we used an Altec 639B "Birdcage" mic about 10 feet from the kit, and my Groovetube MD1 for a distant ambience mic in the hallway. The "alternate" vintage mic setup were my EV630 in the kick and EV644 on the snare, along with a vintage STC ribbon mic as a single center overhead. I also brought my infamous dictaphone mic for an overdriven "trash-kit" sound, which we overloaded through 2 channels for distortion. All the mics we pre-amped with the studio’s new vintage Neve console. With the remaing time we tracked some crunch guitar parts with some of the same mics we had used on drums. What a great session!

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